Saturday, May 31, 2008


My Swedish friend Anna wrote a post about generosity the other day, and it made me sit up with quite a start, and I blushed a little bit, and looked around the room with a slightly guilty expression as if to say “I have just realised that I have been remiss, and gosh I really hope no-one noticed.” Because I suddenly realised that when one receives an award in blogland, one should keep in mind that it is there to be passed on...virtually a copy-and-paste sort of someone else. My blogging mob, I have found, are generous to a fault.

So I then began to ponder how I should pass on this award:

This is a difficult task because blogs, by definition, are the creative spaces of their....well...creators, and just as each person is unique, so is his/her own blog. My choice, it would seem, must be purely subjective. I must choose the blogger who is most inspiring to me, at this particular moment of my life, and I have therefore chosen the wonderous Esti from Bilbao, Spain.

And because it is often customary to give a little speech of introduction when presenting an award, I am now clearing my throat, and tapping on the microphone, and beginning.....

Exactly ten years ago (and I know this for a fact because my mother inscribed the book with the date and a loving message) I received a book as a present from my mother. Here is a picture of the cover of this gorgeous book, it is titled “Carl Larsson – Watercolours and Drawings”.

Now here is the frontispiece of this little book:
Yes, you are quite right to gasp out loud dear audience. You understand. For if this book were to appear in a Hollywood movie it would do so at the beginning, and this would be known as “foreshadowing”, because an entire decade later there would be such a thing as the internet and blogs and it would be possible for me to meet Anna from Sweden... who I’m telling you IS THAT YOUNG WOMAN HOLDING THE FLOWERS AND LOOKING ME DIRECTLY IN THE EYE.

Yes, very well, I hear you, dear audience, and well may you wonder “what has this to do with the wondrous Spanish Esti?” Well, dear audience – EVERYTHING. Because it was only through meeting Anna that I came across Esti, and it was only because of Anna’s insatiable love of colour that I came across a book in my Grandpa’s library which featured a Miro painting on its cover.

It was only then that I suddenly felt compelled to open up the book and read a quote of Jacques Doucet – a Parisian art patron of the 1920’s – talking to an artist about Joan Miro:

“You know, I have bought two paintings by that friend of yours...I have hung them at the foot of my bed. When I wake up in the morning, I see them, and I am happy for the rest of the day.”

And that quote, my dears, is WORD FOR WORD HOW I FEEL ABOUT ESTI’S ART.

I look at it as it blinks out at me from my little computer screen (please note, copyright laws are stringently adhered to by eleanorfromthecommentbox) and it just makes me so damn happy I feel like dancing and singing, and then quietly sitting in a soft armchair with a cup of tea and thinking about it.

So, Esti – I hardly know you, and you hardly know me, but despite that, I would like to pass on this award, whose origin is Swedish, via Australia, to you in your Spanish home – may it always be filled with colour and music and the laughter of a happy family.

And, finally, here is a little picture to make you smile a bit. This is a photograph of you, and me, and Anna.....strangers behind Miro’s facelike plaques (from a tiny photo on page 73 of my Grandpa’s book) peering out into blogland and having such a riotously good time. May the good times continue!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Book Challenge

One of my new Swedish readers (she says proudly, hardly believing how lucky she is to have suddenly been introduced to so many women who live in such a faraway land) has set me a challenge which I gladly accept.

Below is a photo of my Grandpa's little wall-desk where I like to do my work these days. Karin (I am presuming that is the right name...but I do not know any Swedish, so may have misinterpreted the blogname, in which case, I apologise) asked me to grab the closest book to me and open it to page 123.

Now. Technically speaking, all of these books are "closest to me". Which one to choose? Easy.
Only this one has more than 100 pages!

It is "The Master of Ballantrae" by Robert Louis Stevenson. Let's have a closer look at it, shall we? The cover is a plaid cloth, very smooth and cool to the touch.

When the book is opened one is overwhelmed by a strong peppery/woody fragrance. It's a very, very good book smell. Ummmmm....makes me think of my Grandpa.

Here is page 123, as Karin requested. It feels like I am following a treasure-map, and I think I'm getting very close to that exciting little "x".

So....I count 5 sentences, and post the next three:

"For instance, with all those solid qualities which I delight to recognize in you, I never knew a woman who did not prefer me - nor, I think," he continued, with the most silken deliberation, "I think - who did not continue to prefer me."
Mr. Henry laid down his cards. He rose to his feet very softly, and seemed all the while like a person in deep thought. "You coward!" he said gently, as if to himself. And then, with neither hurry nor any particular violence, he struck the Master in the mouth."

Thank you Karin!!! That book would probably have been sitting there above my computer for months, and I would not have opened it. It was there simply because I am constantly discovering more and more Robert Louis Stevenson books in my Grandpa's collection, and so until I find them all I put them here. Because I don't like to have my authors scattered around the shelves. Each author needs a home. Even if I have never read any of his books. Yet!

Below is an illustration from page 127 which hints at what happened next. Most exciting! From a quick reading of the novel's introduction, it seems that the two main characters are described as "the fraternal enemies"...ooooo....brothers who hate each other...guess what book I'm taking to bed with me tonight! I can just see the rippling muscles, the fiery eyes......
Now, here is a picture of me which I took by accident while attempting to photograph my library. You can see the ceiling is interesting. You can see me here peering into the portal which leads from my computer to Sweden, I am curiously waiting to learn more about this country. But do you see the whimsical, saddish look in my eyes? That is how I look when I ponder the difficulties involved in ever learning Swedish. Aaahhhhh......

Monday, May 26, 2008

An Award!

As you may have noticed (top right hand corner of my blog, polished up, standing on the shelf and waiting to be admired) I have received a beautiful award from a very generous, witty and inspirational blogger - Anna from Sweden. Anna herself received such an award from the fabulous Maria, an award which they both greatly deserve.

But I'll tell you a little secret, come a little closer, yes, that's better......the real award is actually having met such people as Anna and Maria. And of course I met Anna through an introduction from Mary, and of course I met Mary via Blackbird, or maybe via Suse, or Kim....or it might have been any number of other fabulous, creative bloggers.

So thanks guys! We really are a deadly mob! Blog on!


Last week, a white woman who’s been living with an aboriginal mob up in the far north west of the country, she told me all about that mob’s death customs. That mob, she told me, has one death custom which is – never say the dead one’s name. It’s a good custom I thought, and funny how I sometimes use that rule too, in my own mob, even if it’s not really a law, and we don’t really like to talk about it. And then I think about how I’ve had a death, and I stopped saying her name, for the sake of the living, and it’s worked good so far. The custom. You see, the death I had, she wasn’t mine to name, her name belonged really to someone else, and this someone else, her man, you see, was still alive. So what bloody good would it be to this man alive, if I was to start hollering and crying and yelling out our death’s name? No bloody good, I say, no bloody good for a man who has to wake up every morning and get dressed and have a cup of tea, and work, and do what a living man has to do, for life.

So it’s been so many years now that I’ve been silent-treating my death’s name. It’s been enough years for two children to be born and that, not my children mind, but the man’s children, the man with the death and the naming rights, you see, he done good for himself. He done what all us mob wanted for him to do, what we all prayed for him and what the healing leader said would happen if he just did, what he needed to do. You know, that secret stuff that you need to do by yourself very far away, in the desert. That white woman’s black mob did that too, she said. Funny that.

So then the man, he comes back from the desert after all those years. Me, I’ve stayed in brick all this time, so I just been hearing about how he done well, and found a woman, and then the two children and all that family thing. So he comes back, right, and he calls me up one day and he says that he wants me and my mob to come and have some food and drink at his place, and he says it real casual like. Like maybe it’s our death that he had the children with, and not a different-mobbed woman he found, that we don’t know. But I hear the children there, behind him, on the telephone, like two birds chatter chattering, and I think, bloody hell he done good and I said we’ll be there no problem.

I regretted that decision, but it was too late. Me and my mob dragged ourselves into the car and drove to where the living man with his living wife was waiting for us. And when we arrive we see that the living wife is good, you know, she has love-eyes for him, but you can tell she knows what’s up too, and she’s thinking maybe she regretted that decision to invite us too. Now me and my mob just have to be very careful see, because now is that tempting moment when our death’s name could slip out. And that wouldn’t be good for nobody. No. Nobody.

But the kids. But the kids. Well, I gotta say it three times now, ‘cause it was just that good see, but the kids, were so good. Good like a soft chair in the shade of a tree, no, more like good like a present that you thought would be bad but’s good. Yeah, that good. The girl was almost four, and the boy was two, it was his birthday our mob was invited for. There was nobody else there though, and it made me think maybe this live one and his stranger-wife, maybe they hadn’t made much friendship here yet. And maybe it was hard.

So then we talk, and we start to eat and drink, and then we start telling stories, because spinning yarns is our mob’s way. But we can’t be drinking and spinning too much, and we all know it, because the death’s name might pop out. Sometimes, lots of times, someone was telling a story, and then all us mob, and the living man, we all suddenly realised that the story can’t go on without our death’s name being mentioned. And we all look, sly-like, out of the corner of our eyes, at the living wife, to see if she knows. But how could she know right? But then, sometimes, I look at her when she is clearing the table, right, or going to the kitchen for more food, right, and when she thinks no-one’s looking I see her. I see her tired eyes, and her cheeks sucked in, and maybe I see her knowing everything.

Later, after we’ve all eaten and eaten, and now we’re sitting and sort of sighing and nodding, that’s when the little boy suddenly comes to me and sits on my lap. I bend down into him and smell his soft, white hair, smells like my babies when I had them as babies still. Then it’s terrible really, I start chanting my death’s name, in my head, not out loud, but it’s still terrible because my head is spinning and the little boy he feels like a hot hot piece of coal that’s burning through my dress and skin down to the bone. So I start to turn to my mob to say, listen up time to go you good-for-nothing buggers that can’t see I’m burning up alive. When the boy turns his head and sort of tilts it up to me and he whispers right into me “why you look so sad?” I swear he said it, I didn’t dream it, but at first I did think I dreamed it because he was only two right, and how come he could speak such a sentence ay? and also, right, how could he see my face, that it was sad, when he was turned back to me, until he said it. So I excused myself and picked up the boy and popped him on the ground and said, sorry guys, I have to visit the ladies’ room and then we have to go ‘cause it’s getting late and school day tomorrow.

So I go to the ladies’ room, and I’m standing there looking in the mirror and I see myself and I’m burning up with flames for hair, and coals for eyes and my mouth is a great big cauldron. And behind me is a winnie-the-pooh shower curtain, and a wiggles bath toy and lots of those plastic letters that my kids liked to play with in their bath too. And I stare and stare at the craziness and I start to laugh and cry and sort of lose myself for a while, and then I clean myself up to look half-decent and go out and we all pile back in the car and go back home.

So I come back home, yeah, and first thing I do, as soon as I step in the door, is run to the computer and turn you mob on. I see you all lined up to greet me and that’s when it hits me, right. Bloody hell!!!!! You mob also have your rules on naming rights. Some of you got names, and some of you don’t, and some of you I’m just not really sure about your names at all. Like maybe the name you use for yourself, when you’re in this mob, is your really name, or maybe it’s not, or maybe it sort of is your really name. But only sometimes. And then I start to play this game where I start giving you all big-mob-on-the-outside names, but it doesn’t work see, not one bit not at all really. All it does is change everything to nothing, so I stop that big-mob imagining game quick smart. Because I start to think now also that if you mob don’t need to tell me names not of your dead and not of your alive, then it turns around and then I don’t need to tell you the names of my dead or my alive, no not at all. That you understand more without the naming stuff. And maybe that’s why I like you mob so much. So very much. Yeah. That’s why. That's why and maybe that’s what makes us such a deadly mob. Yeah.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Sydney Writers' Festival

I spent the better part of my day at the Sydney Writers' Festival. I took you all with me and we had a fabulous time. This is what we saw as we walked towards the wharves which house the festival.

This is one of the wharves as we first glimpsed it. Throughout the year, this wharf actually houses the Sydney Dance Company, you know...the place I tried to describe a while ago.

The first thing that struck us was that there were a lot of man-bags around the wharf, like this one:
and this one:
But this man was our favourite, because he also had a fabulous hat and umbrella, and he smiled at us as we passed him. He was chatting with two lovely-looking women.
When I saw these ladies I immediately felt that they must be fellow-bloggers. Like them I had chosen to wear my black boots to the Festival, and was tempted to say hello to them. But you all reminded me, and rightly so, that this was REALITY, and that bloggers do not really exist here at the is all in my head dammit.

I almost stole these shoes from under this woman's feet. I felt that the shoes told an entire story all by themselves, without ever taking pen to paper. A few of you asked me to stop taking photos because you were scared I might be labelled as a pervert and carted off to the local police-station. But NOBODY notices you taking photos at a writers' festival, because everybody is far too busy READING or TALKING ANIMATEDLY ABOUT READING.

While we were lining up for "Women Going Bush", I noticed this young woman:

She took my breath away. Then, a young man sat beside her, and his appliqued hoodie matched her so perfectly, but she never turned around to look at him. She was far too busy talking animatedly about books to her fabulous friend,

who insisted on opening her parasol at that very moment, even though it was quite cloudy.

Those two certainly were intriguing, but later we spotted this young woman...

and we had great fun imagining what it was she was scribbling down so furiously in her notebook.

Soon it was time to enter the Aladdin's cave of all writing festivals - the bookshop. Much to our surprise (and joy) we found this darling doggie lying strategically in our path.
We stopped to admire her, and talked to her owner (the shop manager, at least...that is what we presumed) who told us that she was a twelve-year-old red cattle-dog called "Spot". He was a bit embarrassed about the name, saying that his daughter had chosen it, but that he feels that she should have been called "Blue", and he even went so far as to say that in his opinion all Australian cattle-dogs should be so named. Now this made us all burst into hysterical laughter because, as you well know, I do indeed have a cattle-dog named "Blue".
After much browsing, we wanted to buy approximately 50-60 books, but this was clearly not possible. Instead, this is what we chose:
As you well remember, after much debate, we decided that we would concentrate on new and innovative books which were written by, or were focusing on, aboriginal writers and communities. You see, we had been extraordinarily inspired by Megan Lewis who speaks just as eloquently as she writes and photographs - a most extraordinary woman. We added a couple of small books by Felix Cheong because we had a strong gut feeling that our teenaged children would enjoy his writing. This gut feeling was based on the fact that we started to read one of his books at the shop and couldn't put it down. Of course, all of the books came with a complimentary canvas Festival bag, which we simply adore.

Then it was time for lunch, something we had been anticipating with great delight as writers' festivals are well-known to be centres of gourmet excellence. We were not disappointed in this regard as we happily sat and munched on our vegetarian penne and surveyed the scene around us. An older woman and a young man walked past us at a leisurely pace, allowing us to overhear a snippet of their conversation. The young man was holding the older woman's arm and saying "I know you SAY you don't want it, but I WANT to buy it for you, as a gift, and I SHALL buy it for you." The older woman turned to him lovingly and patted his arm. I turned to you mob and asked you what you thought - were they grandma and grandson? and you all nodded in agreement.
As we were about to leave our table, I spotted the grandma and grandson again. They were chatting away, each holding a glass of white wine. We all had a little tear in our eye at that very moment, and agreed that it was our fondest dream to one day be such a grandma to such a grandson.

Now, that in itself would have sufficed as a superb ending to our day at the Festival. But then it got even better. For just as we were making our way out of the building we saw Spot, once again strategically placed in our path, perfect Australian writers' mascot that she is.

See Spot lie. See Spot run. Run Spot run. That is, after all, where most of us started our reading. And just look how far we have come!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Love Thy Neighbour - The sequel.

So I just got home in a mad rush, and raced to the backyard to bring in the washing that's been hanging on the line since I left this morning. My washing line is up against the side fence, the fence we share with my other neighbours, the neighbours I haven't yet written into my blog. I can often eavesdrop on my neighbours this way because the fence is high enough to hide me, and I have adapted my laundering skills so as to be as quiet as a mouse.

This evening, I heared the neighbour's nanny talking on the phone to a friend. She often goes out to the deck to talk, I guess she thinks it gives her a bit of privacy. Hehehe. seems that she has just been diagnosed with shingles. It is not a very bad case of shingles. If it was she would be writhing in agony, in bed, because I have a friend whose husband had shingles, so I know. But I digress.

I may have to cancel my Friday appointments. I'm expecting a telephone call, and I have my pen and pad at the ready.

Patchwork Prose

"You aren't the first patchworker I've known." "Of course," she nodded, and turned back, and angled down. Laid out there on her lap for all to see, was colour scheming on its way out of the box. Each box contained a comment of its own, in different shades of tone, which I read as if a line to me. It said "I'm thinking of the time." "I'm thinking of the time when we were kids, I'm thinking of the gaming carnivale." I countered with a thought outside her box, "I'm thinking of our kids before we stitched them in." She stopped, her needle poised above a hem, and cocked her head and blinked and green-eye stared. "Why, El," she said, "I'm not sure I really know to what I stitched them, where." Shrugging "I don't know." "My patchwork used to be a pillowcase, a kitchen towel, a businessman's tie, a fraying winter scarf. It used to be a handkerchief into which my Grandma cried. It used to be the colour of my heart, but then I added shades of turquoise, olive, lavender, laid out." "I do not like sad quilts," I thought, not said, "I like to see its brighter side instead." "Well, El," she said, "just turn it on its side, and lay it down to sleep, whichever way you like."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Knit one, poem one

I have an ongoing fascination with socks. But until recently, I took my socks for granted. Black or white, worn until worn out, not much to write about.

Then I started reading blogs, and suddenly I realised that socks can be much more than...well...socks. They are personal creations, pieces of art, celebrations of colour and texture, symbols of homespun warmth, passion for life.

I wanted to join the club.

But knitting is a bit like learning to swim, or to ride a bike, or to play the piano. If you didn't do it as a child, it will take time and effort and commitment; three aspects of my present life which are already being used to capacity.

So I knitted a poem instead.

I replaced the needles with pencils and clickety-clacked away for your enjoyment.

This sock is dedicated to all of you crafty bloggers who have stitched your way into my know who you are!

Two needles, one skein,
Creating sticks, no colour's plain.
Follow pattern, line by line,
Home-love, patience and divine.
See it growing baby hat,
See it loving, tit for tat.
Increase, decrease, line unfurl,
Life a lesson, boy meets girl.
Final gauge, one of two,
Couple vulnerable, twins few.
Take a photo, capture that,
Sit and watch,

Monday, May 19, 2008

Cloze test

Rose from Titanic, Lars, Shrek, Annie from Sleepless in Seattle.

What do these characters all have in common? They are all examples of film protagonists who begin their on-screen life entrenched in their IDENTITY, but fully embrace their ESSENCE just before the end credits start to roll.

IDENTITY is what psych majors would call "persona", it is the false self we present to the world, because it is safe. ESSENCE is the person's truth - it is what we bury under our identity. I wonder how that would translate into the blogging world? Is my blog my identity or my essence? Huh! As if I'd tell you.
Moving right along.
A helpless woman who must rely on the material support of a man; a man who can only have a relationship with an inanimate object; an ugly and unlovable ogre; a rational woman who organises her life like clockwork. These are the identities.

A passionate and independent woman; a deeply sensitive and empathetic man; an adorable, lovable being; a woman who will abandon everything safe in her life for the sake of her own magical destiny. These are the essences, and they are also happy endings. Sometimes they are classic Hollywood happy endings, other times they are simply enthusiastic signs of hope and promise. Either way, they make for good, fun movie viewing.

So. Now. How does one go about determining a character's true essence? Fill in the blanks:

"I'll do whatever it takes to achieve my goal, just don't ask me to __________ because that's just not me."

Whatever you filled in for the blank, is in fact EXACTLY YOUR ESSENCE. It is the real truth of you, that you will adamantly deny, because it scares the living crap out of you, and you would rather jump off a moving ship than face it. But it is you, and you would do well to remember that passion trumps fear every time.....eventually.

This is only a tiny bit of what I learned at a scriptwriting workshop held this weekend by Michael Hauge. It was a wonderful experience. He is a modest and unassuming man who teaches with wit, humour and a huge dose of generosity. He finished his day-long seminar by telling his students: "Now have the courage to go home, and fill in YOUR blank."

It was really only then (look...I was tired...and the line for coffee was really long) that I realised Mr. Hauge was teaching not merely how to write a screenplay, but how to view life, and art, and...most to understand yourself.

And what could be a happier ending than that?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Love thy neighbour

How very cunning is that beast called Blog. Pick a subject, post it, and the very next day, that very same subject posts itself back to you and nips you on the ankle, as if to say “you can’t just leave it at that, there’s MUCH more to THAT story.”

One day, I write about the British nanny next door, and the very next day, the British nanny next door calls me on the phone.

Everything I am about to describe really happened yesterday.

I couldn’t make it up if I tried.

The voice I hear over the phone is faint and desperate – “Eleanor? Is that you? I’m sorry...thank god...I need help...” terrifying sobs follow, and she continues, “it’s Nanny, from next door. I’ve fallen down the stairs, and it hurts, oh god it hurts...I did something to my ankle....I can’t get up...” And now I am standing at attention, all previous thoughts of lunch and chores forgotten.

I am very efficient and calm in emergency situations. I grab a box of arnica pills, an ice-pack and my house-keys, and rush next door. For five traumatic minutes I hold my mobile to my ear and listen to Nanny as she drags herself, slowly, painfully, towards the front door. As the door swings open I find myself kneeling down on the floor and lovingly embracing the British nanny next door.

She cries into my shoulder and tells me how she fell and how much it hurts, but in whispers, because Little Man and Missy Moo have just gone down for their nap. We both know that there’ll be hell to pay if they awaken prematurely, and we have more than enough to deal with at the present moment.

Nanny is soon settled on the guest bed, and we both assess the huge, swollen mass that once was her ankle.

Nanny calls R, R says she is immediately leaving work and will be there as soon as possible.

R is Nanny’s employer and My Beloved Neighbour.

R and her family moved in next door to me exactly a year ago, and I loved her at first sight. She is a Mumbai gal who speaks perfect English with a darling Marathi accent. She cooks a dal and idli dish which is so heavenly the gods themselves fight over it. She will happily drag you into her closet and show you her saris “these are my wedding saris – this one I wore when I left my house, this one I wore when I entered my in-laws’ house, this one I wore at the ceremony, these three I wore at the celebrations...” She is small and sparkly and super-bright and loves to chat with me – over the fence, in the driveway, beside the car, by sms or phone. She had two babies 15 months apart and immediately hired a full-time nanny.

Which brings me back to the story.

R works in the city, so I knew that I had about half an hour to kill with Nanny. I must admit, it was at this very moment that I began having Selfish Thoughts.

As Nanny closed her eyes and groaned in agony, and as I ran to fetch more ice and another pillow, I was, in fact, thinking “I can’t believe how fabulous this is, this will make a spectacular post. I MUST get Nanny to talk.”

And that, dear reader, is exactly what I did.

Nanny told me all about her babies, and all about how many of her babies are now grown-up and having babies of their own. She seems to have had many more girl babies, than boys, and the girls all had storybook names such as Alice, Tatiana, Camilla, Ellie and Jemima.

Nanny is the woman behind Women With Fabulous Jobs. She mentioned a famous film to me, and then said, very quietly, “I worked for the producer of that one. She went back to work when her bub was 4 weeks old...Timmy must be 15 or 16 years old by now.” I ask jokingly if they gave her a mention in the film’s credits, and we share a meaningful look.

She says she knows I’m Jewish and is curious which synagogue I attend. She worked for a Jewish family a few years ago and rather enjoyed going to synagogue. She says that this is her first Hindu family and she finds it very enjoyable. She tells me a story about Alice and Tatiana, Tatiana was adopted from China, the two girls were friends, and she was looking after them. They were drawing pictures of each other and she asked them to look carefully at each other and describe what made them different. The two girls took their time, staring at each other curiously, and finally agreed on an answer “is it that Alice is wearing a pink cardigan?” She could tell that I really liked that story.

I then asked for more details about Ellie “was her full name Eleanor? Yes.” Ellie loved fairies and Nanny would sit with her in the afternoons and make fairy cordial, and they’d leave the tiny cups out in the garden for the fairies. The next morning, Ellie would awaken to see a trail of rose-petals leading from her bed out to the cups in the garden – that was Nanny’s fairies’ way of saying thank you for the cordial. I just knew that Nanny’s fairies would be extraordinarily polite.

I soon found myself being slowly lulled to sleep by Nanny’s storytime. I yearned to have her tuck me in and kiss me and tell me to have a good nigh-nighs for Nanny. And I was waiting for her to hand me my Harry, because I can’t sleep without my Harry. I ask her why she calls it a Harry and she explains that there was a firm which made muslin wraps called “Harrington”, and that explanation is so perfect that I swoon with delight.

Then, everything clicks back into real focus. R arrives home in a flurry of concern, friendship and a fabulous dose of working-woman-from-city-office joie de vivre. I insist that R remain with the babies, who are now beginning to stir, and I take Nanny to the doctor. They discover that Nanny has a fractured ankle. I take her home, where she must rest.

Later that night, R calls for a chat. I can see her through her kitchen window, but she doesn’t know that. I’m a terribly nosy neighbour. R tells me that they must now search for a new, temporary nanny, while Nanny is on sick leave.

I advise her to call Anna from Sweden (and from my comment box) without delay.

But apparently I am 25 years too late with that advice.

If you accept the notion of parallel universes.

Which I do.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Coffer vs. Blogger

I have been offered an unexpected job this week, with Friday as the deadline. This is good for the coffer, but not for the blogger. I actually had to temporarily disconnect the internet today so as to force myself to finish the job. That is how terribly addicted I am to you all. Shocking.

So I must now quickly list everything I meant to tell you, and which I have almost forgotten already:

My local supermarket burnt down last week. It was apparently done by a couple of teenagers, which is most surprising as I always expected it to be done by a 39-year-old housewife with a bad case of PMT. Thing is...I keep forgetting that it has burnt down, and so I still drive to that damned shopping centre and then stand outside the blackened shell of the supermarket and stare blankly at it. I have done this three times already. My daughter wrote at the top of the shopping list today "DO NOT GO TO BURNT-OUT SUPERMARKET", and it worked. I had to go to the other shopping centre, which Colours likes to call "The Death Star".

My neighbours have nannies. The neighbours on the right have a British nanny who cares for their two toddlers from 7:30am to 6:30pm. The neighbours on the left have a Greek nanny who cares for two school-aged children; she cooks flavoursome and wholesome meals for them while they are at school. It really shits me to see them do everything I have done for years, and still do, but THEY GET PAID FOR IT. Also, they are both very cheerful, friendly, and energetic. I hate that.

I have discovered that the mere glimpse of a public library cheers me up. I was driving my son to his tennis training at 8pm tonight (annoying, impossible time for driving to courts) and I drove past my local library. It was still open, and I could see the warm, yellow light through the windows, and I even caught a glimpse of a man standing by a shelf with a book. It cheered me up instantly.

I am fretting over the fact that E. M. Delafield died in 1943, at the young age of 53. She would have simply ADORED blogging, I just know it. She would have had a huge blogger following and would have become an international celebrity. Here is how she signed off on the last post of her first volume of "Diary of a Provincial Lady":

Robert says, Why don't I get into Bed? I say, Because I am writing my Diary. Robert replies, kindly, but quite definitely, that In his opinion, That is Waste of Time.

I get into bed, and am confronted by Query: Can Robert be right?

Can only leave reply to Posterity.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Yesterday, my husband and I went for a walk. At one point there was a couple with a stroller walking in front of us. My husband whispered to me, "do you think they are our age?" and I said that, yes, I think they are. So my husband nodded his head towards them and motioned to me with this hand as if to say "let's overtake them," which we promptly did. As we passed them we both had a good look and later agreed that they were, indeed, our age. They had a tiny infant sleeping in the stroller, and this made us feel greatly superior to them. We started our little family when we were quite young (I was 23 when my daughter was born) and now delight in seeing others our age who still have those intense baby years ahead of them. It just cheers us up, we can't help it.

Later, as we came around a curve in the pavement just before the dog-park on the cliffs, we saw another couple in front of us. They were perhaps 15 to 20 years older than us, and each was carrying a plastic bag of supermarket shopping. I noticed that the man's hand was shaking uncontrollably, and I immediately felt sad for him, thinking that it might perhaps be Parkinson's, although I am not too sure exactly what Parkinson's is. I didn't mention it to my husband, and he didn't seem to notice, but it saddened me and stayed with for the rest of the day.

This morning, as we were getting dressed for work, my husband turned to me and said "did you notice that man's hand? the way it shook?" and I looked at him with great surprise. I knew exactly what he was talking about because that shaking hand was still with me. I just didn't know it was with him as well.

This afternoon I was walking Blue along the beach promenade and I heard a man's voice behind me saying "so that should help, but if it does get worse there's something else I could suggest." The very next moment a couple of teenagers jogged past me, a boy and a girl, and I realised that what I had heard was the boy giving the girl jogging advice. They were running side-by-side, and the girl was pushing her right hand into her waist, obviously suffering from a stitch. The boy was sweetly supportive, and the girl was all swinging-pony-tail and flushed cheeks and a tiny frown. They ran off into the distance as I smiled to myself.

But as I continued my walk, now turning towards home, I felt that shaking hand slyly come up to me from behind and push me towards the park on the cliffs. It made me look down at the abyss, which gave me a terrible fright, even though I knew that I would never jump and never be pushed. Although maybe I really couldn't be sure of that at all.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Lovely lavender

I will attempt to write this post in the style of E.M. Delafield's "Diary of a Provincial Lady," with apologies to Ms. Delafield.

The connection between this style and the colour lavender will hopefully become apparent.

You should also note, as I did with much amazement, that Ms. Delafield's diary was published in 1930. Helen Fielding's "Bridget Jones's Diary" was published in 1996.

May 11th: Awaken to discover husband and children still asleep. Dog discovered to be sleeping under a pink baby-blanket. Feel grave disappointment that blanket is not lavender. (Mem: must ask daughter if can take photo of her room).

Check blog. See usual suspects have checked in with witty and encouraging comments. Revisit turquoise in Sweden and Blue Mountains.

Hear the dulcet tones of "Guitar Hero." Son must be up.

Eat a lovely, solitary, breakfast of sourdough toast with butter and jam, and strong tea.

Consult just-awakened husband about lavender day. Husband seems unable to focus.

Supply husband with coffee and toast. Remark, perhaps sarcastically, that it is my hope he is enjoying mother's day so far.

Husband smiles sweetly. Find myself unable to remain sarcastic.

Breakfast conversation becomes general, although my thoughts are concerned solely with lavender, lavender, lavender, lavender.

Breakfast goes off well.

Return to library and begin perusing shelves. Am struck by large number of mustard-coloured books. (Mem: must remember this if ever need to create mustard-flavoured post again. This, however, is doubtful).

Eventually discover one tiny book which might be considered to be a lavender colour. It is, however, a DRIED lavender.

Photograph lavender. (Query: is it possible that I am addicted to blogging?)

I take note of lavender book's title and feel justified in my love for all things blogful. A blog, after all, is a diary, and as such cannot be termed a harmful, illegal drug.

Choose six other books in my attempt to encapsulate Colour Week.

Husband enters library and offers assistance.

Husband takes the seven books to back garden, claiming natural light may be better for photographing them. (Query: is this husband's way of saying I too might benefit from some sunshine and time away from the library?).

Take a satisfactory photo, but notice that have also captured hanging laundry in background. Husband obligingly offers to remove offending garments.

Husband agrees that photograph taken UNINTENTIONALLY does make a lovely mother's day gift. (Mem: must tell fellow bloggers not to comment on husband's beautifully framed posterior. Fear eurolush may be inappropriate).

Discover I have inadvertently placed olive before ocean. Blame husband for this error. Husband remains charming throughout.

Daughter awakens and assures me that there is MUCH lavender in her room, and it may be photographed.
Begin to read lavender book while standing in back garden in pyjamas.
Claim extreme exhaustion and declare my mother's day gift to be waiting for me upstairs, in my bed. Family is relieved to be rid of me.
Read lavender book in bed, gleefully, while enjoying a bar of Green & Black's organic bittersweet dark chocolate. (Mem: must remember to restock night-table drawer).
Arrive downstairs two hours later in elevated mood. Take photograph of daughter's lavender jewellery.

Also photograph lavender decoration daughter has placed on rubbish bin.

And that's all folks!!!!!!!!!!!
May every week be a colourful week for us all!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The colour of money

We were having dinner at my parents' home last night, and some time between the chicken soup and the apple strudel I mentioned that I was looking for turquoise things. My husband and children immediately rolled their eyes and sighed in unison. Colour Week has been most exciting and stimulating for me, but I must admit that I have been somewhat...umm...shall we say....OBSESSED with it. Possibly to the point of dementing my family (Mary - I use that verb ALL of the time now).

My parents, however, know little about my blogging and were politely interested. My father casually remarked that, perhaps, he might find me a horse with a turquoise theme. No, my daddy was not offering to buy me a blue pony, but rather to place a bet on a horse. Most Saturdays my father enjoys looking through "The Form" and betting on any horses that have the word "sea" in their name. He only bets on horses with "sea" in their name. That's just his thing, and he's made some money off it so who am I to question.

Well....with that suggestion...I was off!! I raced to grab "The Form" from the coffee table, only to discover gleefully that there were a lot of tiny pictures of satin jockey shirts with matching hats:

How adorable is that??!! There seemed to be a large number of turquoise outfits to choose from, but I could not find a horse whose name matched the outfit. Nothing felt quite right.

Then, I saw this little beauty:

My dad immediately circled it in red, because that is his betting habit. Not only was the horse called TURQUIA, but it was racing in the Blue Sapphire Stakes. The race's title even mentions JEEP, which is blackbird's pretty new car, and blackbird recently placed a bet on a horse most successfully.

My father nodded encouragingly, for he knows that betting is all about the FEEL OF THE NAME. He even pointed out that Turquia was horse number 7, and that there are 7 days in Colour Week.

So, today, my father placed his own bets and then placed my $16 each-way on Turquia. I listened to the race on the radio at 1.45pm while driving my daughter to her tennis comp.

Turquia came second!!!!!!!!!!!

It paid $2.50, so I can go tomorrow and collect $20. That means I won $4.

But I really have to split it 4 ways.

Friday, May 9, 2008

And then she stole my thunder

This is another book in my library. It is volume II of "Albrecht Durer" by Erwin Panofsky. I found the colour of my thunder in it:

The title of this engraving is "Melencolia I"

There is thunder in her eyes
And it just comes out on Fridays
And its colour is a mean and ugly black.

And she takes that sticky thunder-colour,
Puts it in her pocket,
But the thunder stain,
It just keeps coming back.

And she used to try and say
To her dear ones on that day
That the thunder
Was the colour of her love.

But both she and they knew clearly
That the thunder very nearly
Blacked out all the other colours
With its shout.

I was going to leave it at that.

But then, just before I was ready to post the thunder and send it on its way, I thought to myself (as one does) "let's just quickly check out eurolush's blog."

And then she stole my thunder.

Her blog was so sunny, cheerful and humorous....and all wrapped up so neatly in that special eccentric funkiness that is eurolush. Her post took my scowling thunder of a face in its two little hands, and forced my frowning mouth to raise itself into a smile. There might even have been a chuckle or two to be heard, instead of that dark, forbidding shout that was.

So that's how eurolush stole my thunder. It was just lucky that I had captured it quickly on this post before it was gone for the day. Because A and M are counting on me, you know.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The olive perspective

The cover of a book in my library, with thanks to Joan Miro.

The three women sat around a small round table which had been placed under the olive tree. The table was set with a large mustard-coloured teapot and three peony-coloured teacups. The children, all ages, shapes and sizes, instantly took off at a run through the sun-dappled grass, yelling happily to each other and to no-one in particular. The dogs followed them, prancing back and forth, intent on remaining in the midst of the joyful childhood mess. This was most welcome to the three women. Silence descended upon them, and only the tiniest of bird-trills could be heard from the olive branches above their heads.

A poured the tea, M placed her silver camera against the silvery leaves and captured the moment, E scribbled something indecipherable in her tiny notebook. M and E picked up their peony-cups and peered warily at the steaming hot ocean-blue tea. A laughed gleefully and took a long, hearty sip from her own cup. M and E looked at each other, shrugged, and sipped along with A. At first, their sipping was polite, but it soon turned into a hearty gulping, for the tea tasted as good as a day at the beach.

“So, what’s next A?” asked E, with some trepidation. M put down her peony-cup, smacked her lips, and waited. A clapped her hands together once, turned to the two and said “the olive perspective.” M cocked her head to the side and opened her eyes wide, E twitched and narrowed her eyes and looked nervously around her, A laughed and said “don’t look so serious, it’s only a game.”

“What is an olive perspective?” M asked politely. “Will we have to change our clothes?” asked E excitedly. A sighed. “The olive perspective is whatever you like, and you can do whatever you like with it,” she said. “That makes me nervous,” said E ,“it’s too open to interpretation. Can’t we once, just once, do a true/false quiz?” M picked up her silver camera and pointed it at E and clicked, “here is a picture of E pondering the olive perspective,” she showed A. “Yes,” said A, “I see you understand.”

E remained perplexed, for she could not reach a comfortable, acceptable definition of olive. Was olive in fact a real colour at all? Was it not just a darker, sadder version of green? She excused herself and walked into the house, picked up the phone and called Colours the Clown. “Yes dearest?” said Colours, “I’m in trouble,” replied E, “A has assigned us the olive perspective.” After a long silence, Colours said “a martini darling,” and promptly hung up. E instantly felt better.

When E returned to the table under the tree she was shocked to discover that A and M had left without her. The teapot and teacups had been cleared. Only a few drops of the ocean-tea remained on the table, as proof that they had once sat there. As she stood all alone, staring at the table and at the three empty chairs, she heard the sounds of the children once again and looked up to see them all running towards her. There were even more children than before, and she briefly wondered where they had come from and where, oh where, were their mothers? Then, before she could say “am I to be the neighbourhood babysitter once again?” the children surrounded her and began singing and dancing.

Some of the little girls did cartwheels, the older girls had peony-garlands in their hair. The boys were boisterous and sweaty, some of the smaller boys were carrying tiny pebbles and shells. Then, amidst the merry mayhem, the tiniest boy of the group pushed his way through the crowd, and stood in front of E. He tilted his head up and put out his open palm to show her something. E kneeled down on the moist grass, thinking that this will surely stain her trousers, and looked at the little boy’s treasure.

The little boy was holding a tiny wooden ark, and inside it were even tinier little wooden animals, all in pairs. He smiled at E and then rummaged in his trouser pocket with his free hand. He brought out a tiny wooden bird, and in its beak was an even tinier wooden olive branch. He gave the bird to E, and smiled, and laughed, and then disappeared in the crowd. E called out after the little boy “thank youuuu!” and she could just manage to hear, above the sounds of crazy childhood backyard games, a high thin voice singing back to her “your weeeelcome.”

Thursday was a wonderful day after all.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


I woke up this morning, back home, ready for a day full of hard work. But Anna knocked on my door, grabbed me by the hand, and forced me to go for a walk down to the ocean with her. So what could I do but laugh and go?
Now...I hadn't even eaten my breakfast yet, so she started by taking me out to a cafe (isn't that nice of her?)...and then....well, you can see for yourselves: